Meetings in English

Whether you are holding a meeting or attending a meeting, it is imporant that you understand key English phrases and expressions related to meetings. A successful meeting has no surprises. With proper preparation and careful organization, a meeting can run smoothly. The most typical complaint about meetings is that they run too long. Meetings that run longer than necessary can be very costly to a company or business. As the famous business expression says: Time is money. Setting goals and time limits, keeping to the agenda, and knowing how to refocus, are key components of an effective meeting. This may sound simple in your own native language, but it is a little trickier when you or the participants do not speak fluent English. These pages will help you hold or attend a meeting with success. Review the vocabulary, read through the lessons, and then check your understanding.

Scenario
The following pages will be based on the meeting of a fictional company called Paris Tours. The owner of the small tour company is Pierre. He has ten employees, including four supervisors, Kana and Thomas (guides), Nolan (driver), and Jane (receptionist). These four supervisors will be called to a meeting to discuss the upcoming tourist season. Follow through the pages to watch how Pierre prepares for and holds the meeting, and how his staff participate.

We always vote for a new chairperson at the AGM. usually in writing and usually secret group of elected members of an organization/company who meet to make decisions .) apologies noun ballot noun board of directors noun Meaning not present Example Sentence The vice president is absent due to unforeseen circumstances. We have a lot to accomplish today. The board of directors meets once a month to discuss the budget. The last item on the agenda is AOB. apologies for absence a type of vote. Please forward the agenda to anyone who is speaking at the meeting. I forgot to allocate someone to bring refreshments. I hope we do not have to address this matter again in the future. so let's begin.Vocabulary Word Part of speech absent adj accomplish verb address verb adjourn verb agenda noun AGM noun(abbr. we will adjourn the meeting here. so we can skip the apologies. speak on close a meeting list of objectives to cover in a meeting Annual (yearly) General Meeting assign roles/tasks to certain people Any Other Business (unspecified item on agenda) item on agenda announcing people who are absent. Please fold your ballot in half before you place it in the box. succeed in doing deal with.) allocate verb AOB noun(abbr. Everyone is present today. If there are no further comments.

please raise your hand rather than speak out. Mr. a regular one held by an organisation telephone meeting between three or more people in different locations . As chair. Please make sure I have no interruptions while I'm on the conference call. If you have a comment. often has one long table and many chairs The boardroom is reserved for a managers' meeting. Allan Davis. Before the conference there will be a private meeting for board members only. thank yous) work together as a pair/group begin express one's opinions or thoughts formal meeting for discussion. reminders. esp. We will commence as soon as the last person signs the attendance sheet. The role of treasurer was decided based on the chairman's casting vote. Before we address this matter. The board fell apart because the members had difficulty collaborating.boardroom noun a large meeting room. Let's take a few minutes and brainstorm some ways that we can cut costs. so we'll have to meet in the lounge. it is my pleasure to introduce to you. I'll need some clarification as to who was involved.e. brainstorm verb casting vote noun chairperson/chair noun clarification/verification noun thinking to gather ideas deciding vote (usually by the chairman) when the votes are otherwise equal the person who leads or presides at a meeting explanation/proof that something is true/understood closing remarks noun collaborate verb commence verb comment verb or noun conference noun conference call noun last thoughts spoken in a meeting (i. I just have a few closing remarks and then you will all be free to go.

If we cannot come to a consensus by the end of the meeting we will put it to a vote. The motion to extend store mandatory adjective minutes noun a written record of everything said at a meeting motion a suggestion put to a vote . let's quickly review the minutes from last month.confidential adjective consensus noun private. follow It's not a question of whether through or not we're going to use this idea. The deadline for buying tickets to the conference is May 25th. grievance noun guest speaker noun person who joins the group in order to share information or deliver a speech implement verb make something happen. who is going to be offering some sales pitch tips. general agreement deadline noun designate verb formality noun due date for completion assign a procedure (often unnecessary) Everyone knows who is that has to be followed due to a going to be the next vice rule president. so this vote is really just a formality. not to be shared Any financial information shared during this meeting should be kept confidential. Before we begin with today's meeting. it's whether or not we know how to implement it. complaint The first item on the agenda relates to a grievance reported by the interns. required It is mandatory that all supervisors attend Friday's meeting. I am delighted to welcome our guest speaker Holly. If no one volunteers to take the minutes I will be forced to designate someone.

Can I have a show of hands of all of those who were participants in last year's conference? There must have been one proxy vote because I count twelve ballots but only eleven attendees. opening remarks noun chairperson or leader's first words at a meeting (i. We need to come up with a strategy that will allow us to have meetings less frequently. I want to thank you all for being punctual despite this early meeting. Firstly. From the show of hands it appears that everyone is in favour of taking a short break. I'm going to put a pie chart on the overhead projector so that everyone can visualize how our profits have declined. we have to clear this room before the end of the hour. introductions) machine with a special light that projects a document onto a screen or wall so that all can see person who attends and joins in on an event overhead projector noun participant noun proxy vote noun a vote cast by one person for or in place of another punctual adjective recommend verb show of hands noun on time (not late) suggest raised hands to express an opinion in a vote strategy noun plan to make something work . welcome. I recommend that you sit closer to the front if you have trouble hearing. As I mentioned in my opening remarks.e. I'm pleased that we were able to cover all of the objectives today within the designated time.noun objectives noun goals to accomplish hours has been passed.

Let's wrap up here so that we can get back to our desks. united in opinion to express (the expression of) an opinion in a group by voice or hand etc finish The vote was unanimous to cut work hours on Fridays.unanimous adj vote verb or noun wrap up verb in complete agreement. . We need to vote for a new vice chairperson now that Jerry is retiring.

so was assigned. We'll be discussing this year's profits at the as soon as all of the board members 6 7 8 9 1 0 we were able to .Vocabulary Quiz 1 We ran out of time and were forced to the meeting. please wait until Marie has 2 3 The board members couldn't come to a they had to hold a vote. If you have a finished speaking. In his the chairman thanked everyone for doing such a good job this month. I'll take a seat. Since everyone was so finish the meeting early. . Markus was away on business. so 4 5 Before we I want to remind everyone to sign the attendance form on the way out. A to eliminate all part-time positions was put forward at the meeting.

There are already twenty bus tours booked from Japan.com. Some meetings are announced by e-mail.com. this could be our busiest season to date. Pierre Sample Notice: MEETING LOCATION: Room 3 DATE: Friday. May 5th TIME: 2:00 PM-4:00 P. and others are posted on bulletin boards. We are also expecting Korean and Australian tours in late summer. length. As you probably have heard. Please make arrangements to have other staff members cover your duties during the meeting. A reminder can also come in the form of an e-mail or notice. it is important to issue a reminder. Sample E-mail: To: jane@paristours. If you are planning on allocating someone to take on a certain role. The agenda should indicate the order of items and an estimated amount of . FOR: Supervisors only SUBJECT: Tourist Season ATTENDANCE IS MANDATORY Writing an Agenda In order to keep the meeting on task and within the set amount of time. If a meeting is announced at the end of another meeting. The date. thomas@paristours. it is important to have an agenda. We will be having a meeting next Friday from 2:00 PM-4:00 PM in Room 3.com cc: kana@paristours. time. and who is not. and purpose of the meeting should be included. nolan@paristours.com Subject: Meeting Hi Everyone. Thank you. make personal contact with that person to inform them of his or her duty. It is also important to indicate exactly who is expected to attend. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the upcoming tourist season.M.Preparing for a Meeting Calling a Meeting There are a number of ways that you may call or be called to a meeting. location. and fifteen walking tours booked from North America. All supervisors are expected to attend.com From: pierre@paristours. Verbal announcements or reminders should always be backed up by documented ones.

I think there is a copy of the minutes in my file. Someone may be called upon to take the minutes. This should be done either in person. If more than one person is going to speak during the meeting. and someone may be asked to speak on a certain subject. if they know what is going to be covered. someone may be asked to do roll call. by asking questions or offering feedback.A. I just wanted to make sure that you would be available to review last month's minutes and present them at Friday's . This will be good for Stella to hear. Introduction: Pierre and Stella (5 minutes) 2 Minutes from previous meeting: Jane (10 minutes) 3 Japan Tours: Pierre (15 minutes) 4 N. Sample E-mail: To: jane@paristours. In some cases.com From: pierre@paristours. People will be more likely to participate in a meeting. Pierre: Great.time for each item. Sample Agenda: 1 Welcome.com Subject: Minutes Hi Jane. I'd like to put you in charge of reviewing the minutes from last meeting for us. I'll be there. the agenda should indicate whose turn it is to "have the floor". or in an e-mail. it may be useful to forward the agenda to attendees before the meeting. I can do that. Tours: Pierre (15 minutes) 5 Korean Tours: Pierre (15 minutes) 6 Australian Tours: Pierre (if time allows 10 minutes) 7 Feedback from last year: Everyone (15 minutes) 8 Vote on staff picnic: Everyone (15 minutes) 9 Questions/Closing remarks/Reminders: Everyone (5 minutes) Allocating roles The person in charge of calling and holding a meeting may decide to allocate certain roles to other staff members. you'll have ten minutes to remind us of what we discussed last meeting. did you get the e-mail about next week's meeting? Jane: Yes. Pierre: Thanks. Jane: Sure. Stella will be our new private tours coordinator. Sample Personal Request: Pierre: Hi Jane.

let me know. Pierre . If you have any concerns about this. Thanks.meeting. so I'd like to give her a chance to see where things have been going since the last meeting. We have a new staff member joining us.

family. Hello. this is the time when introductions should be made. the chairperson. Thomas: I know what you mean. Sample Welcome: Pierre: I think we'll begin now. I'm heading out with my brother-in-law for the first round of the year on Saturday. we should get started. or if there is a guest speaker. First I'd like to welcome you all and thank everyone for coming. or ask the person to introduce him or herself. everyone. and you? Pierre: Well. Introductions If anyone at the meeting is new to the group. since everyone is here. Sample Dialogue: Pierre: Hi Thomas. You should discuss things unrelated to the meeting. The person in charge of the meeting can introduce the new person. so we really should begin. or whoever is in charge of the meeting should formally welcome everyone to the meeting and thank the attendees for coming. Thank you for coming today.Opening a Meeting Small Talk Whether you are holding the meeting or attending the meeting it is polite to make small talk while you wait for the meeting to start. Thank you all for coming at such short notice. First I'd like to welcome you all. or weekend plans. We have a lot to cover today. How are you? Thomas: Great thanks. I really appreciate you all for attending today. I'm good now that the warm weather has finally arrived. Pierre: Have you dusted off your golf clubs yet? Thomas: Funny you should ask. • I'd like to take a moment to introduce our new tour coordinator. • • • • • • Well. I think we'll begin now. I thought winter was never going to end. Welcome Once everyone has arrived. especially at such short notice. such as weather. . I know you are all very busy and it's difficult to take time away from your daily tasks for meetings.

it may be necessary to send around an attendance sheet or call out names. it is probably unecessary to take attendance out loud. I'll be acting as Amanda's assistant while Nancy is away on maternity leave. Before beginning the first main item on the agenda. attendees should be able to follow the agenda as the meeting progresses. First we'll discuss the groups that will be coming in from Japan. In a larger meeting. No matter which format is used. Roll Call/Apologies If the meeting is a small group. Ken cannot join us today. would you like to stand up and introduce yourself? Hi everyone. Sample Introduction to the Agenda: Pierre: As you can all see here on the agenda we will be mainly talking about the upcoming tourist season. Next. the speaker should provide a brief verbal outline the objectives. And finally. Objectives Some people who hold meetings prefer to pass around copies of the agenda. If an important figure is absent.• • • I know most of you. I'm Judy Strauss. followed by the Korean tours. please let Jane know so that she can make a note of it. If time allows we will also discuss the Australian tours which are booked for early September. If you notice anyone missing. it may be necessary for the chairperson to apologize for his or her absence and offer a brief explanation for it. • • • • It looks like everyone is here today. After that we'll discuss the North American Tours. but there are a few unfamiliar faces. Stella. or use an overhead projector. we'll be voting on where and when to have this year's staff picnic. He has been called away on business Mike will be standing in to take the minutes today. Unfortunately. and others will post a large copy on a wall. . as Lisa is home with the flu. I'm going to request some feedback from all of you concerning last year's tours and where you think we can improve. The person who is taking the minutes will know everyone personally and can indicate who is present and who is absent.

take a brief note of their seating position and find out their name after the meeting.Taking the Minutes Anyone. An outline should include the following: • • • • • • A title for the meeting The location of the meeting A blank spot to write the time the meeting started and ended The name of the chairperson A list of attendees that can be checked off(or a blank list for attendees to sign) A blank spot for any attendees who arrive late or leave early Sample Minutes Outline: Supervisor's Meeting Friday. Before a meeting the minute-taker should review the following: • • • The minutes from previous meeting All of the names of the attendees (if possible) The items on the agenda It also helps to create an outline before going to the meeting. Often someone who is not participating in the meeting will be called upon to be the minute-taker._________ 2. A minute-taker should type out the minutes immediately after the meeting so that nothing is forgotten. Indicating who said what is also necessary. If you cannot remember someone's name._________ Late to arrive:_________ Early to depart:________ The minute-taker can use a pen and paper or a laptop computer and does not need to include every word that is spoken. It is necessary to include important points and any votes and results. including you._________ 3._________ 4. Watching the Time ._________ 5. may be assigned to take the minutes at a meeting. which is why the minute-taker should make sure to know the names of the attendees. May 5 Room 3 Start: ________ Finish: ________ Chair: Pierre Attendees: 1.

but we have to get to the next item. so let's move on. We'll have to come back to this at a later time. Votes can be open. so we'll leave it for now. • • • • • • • • I think we've spent enough time on this topic. It is the chairperson's responsiblity to keep the discussion focused. Let's save this for another meeting. The results may not be counted until after the meeting. You can discuss this among yourselves at another time. If we don't move on.. I'm afraid we've strayed from the matter at hand.) All opposed? . Here are some specific expressions used during open voting: • • All in favour? (Those who agree raise their hands or say "Aye". where people raise their hands in favour or in opposition of the issue. We only have fifteen minutes remaining and there's a lot left to cover. Most votes occur during meetings. Here are some expressions to keep the meeting centred on the items as they appear on the agenda. A good agenda will outline how long each item should take. Now where were we? Oh yes. we'll run right into lunch. We've lost sight of the point here.One of the most difficult things about holding an effective meeting is staying within the time limits. We're running behind schedule. Getting back to item number 5. so we'll have to skip the next item. During private votes.. Regaining Focus It is easy to get off topic when you get a number of people in the same room. attendees fill out ballots and place them in a box to be counted. the results are evident immediately. shall we? I think we're steering off topic a bit with this. We've spent too long on this issue. • • • • • • • • • Let's stick to the task at hand. In an open vote. are private or closed. let's vote. such as who should be elected to take on a certain role. This matter is not on today's agenda. A good chairperson will do his or her best to stay within the limits. Voting When issues cannot be resolved or decisions cannot be easily made. We could spend all day discussing this. Here are some expressions that can be used to keep the meeting flowing at the appropriate pace. they are often put to a vote. We're running short on time. Other votes.

Jane and I have come up with two different ideas. When a person makes a suggestion. we are going to wait until most of the tours have passed through before we have the staff picnic. or ask questions. so it looks like a pool party at my house. Pierre: Well. I hope that works out for all of you. one vote. We can't hear you at the back. moved by Thomas. provide feedback. Kana. could you please speak up. it's time to vote on the staff picnic. I'll give Jane the floor now. and she'll outline these two options. all in favour of option number two? That's four. All in favour of option number one? Raise your hands please. as you all probably assumed.• • Motion to hire more tour guides. Okay. Here are some ways to do so politely: • • • • • • • • • If I could just come in here.. the term to use both during the meeting and in the minutes is moved. Comments and Feedback During the meeting.. Could I just say one thing? I'm really glad you brought that up.. it is seconded. Okay. there isn't much in the way of shelter there.. And. Now. if we had to we could probably squeeze everyone in the basement. Most often votes are put to a majority. so let's put it to a vote. Jane: Great. I don't think there is any reason to have a private vote. I'm afraid I'd have to disagree about that. When it is voted and disagreed upon it is failed. The only problem with this is if it rains. That way most of you should be able to attend. those are the options. After that we'll vote. We don't seem to be getting anywhere with this. so. We would do this on the last Sunday of September.) Motion to hire more tour guides seconded by Nolan. now that we've covered most of the business. Sample Voting Session: Pierre: Okay. If I could have the floor (chance to speak) for a moment. the first option is to have a BBQ at Mariposa Beach. Perhaps we should come back to this at another time? . I don't think Pierre and his wife will want all of us dashing inside in a thunderstorm. I'll put up a sign up sheet and everyone can write down what they plan to bring. (I agree) Jane.. I couldn't agree with you more. would you do the honours? Jane: Thanks Pierre. the chairperson will often cast the deciding vote. So we've chosen the last Sunday of September. (When another person agrees with the motion. participants will comment. Anyhow.. If there is a tie vote. (Suggestions or ideas that are put to a vote are called motions. The second option is to have a potluck dinner/pool party in Pierre's backyard.) When a motion is voted and agreed upon it is carried. so I'll just ask to see a show of hands.okay. Jane.

please remember to introduce yourself to the new trainees. The odd time. Reminders There is almost always one last thing to say. then I think we'll wrap this up. please make sure to sign the attendance sheet. or all of the items in the agenda may be checked off. so I guess we'll finish here. If I didn't already say this. even after the closing remarks. Please take all of your papers with you and throw out any garbage on your way out. Don't forget to put your ballot in the box on your way out. I think we've covered everything on the list. look at that. .. Thank You's and Congratulations The end of the meeting is also the time to thank anyone who has not been thanked at the beginning of the meeting. Instructions for tidying up the room may also be mentioned. such as receiving a promotion. getting married. Here are a variety of ways to adjourn a meeting: • • • • • • It looks like we've run out of time. • • • • • • • Oh. I'm afraid we're going to have to cut this meeting short. Congratulations or Good-luck can also be offered here to someone who has experienced something new. or having a baby. Well. a meeting may be cut short due to an unexpected problem or circumstance. I guess that will be all for today. I almost forgot to mention that we're planning a staff banquet next month. A chairperson might close the meeting and then make a last-minute reminder.. I've just been informed of a problem that needs my immediate attention.Closing a Meeting Wrapping Up There are different reasons why a meeting comes to an end. If you could all return your chair to Room 7 that would be appreciated. Could I have your attention again? I neglected to mention that anyone who wants to take home some of this leftover food is welcome to. or anyone who deserves a second thank you. If no one has anything else to add. Time may run out.we've finished ahead of schedule for once. Some meetings will end earlier than expected and others will run late. before you leave.

or participants may want to discuss the date and time for the next meeting. • • • • • We'll meet again on the first of next month.The next time you see her she will be happily married. or when a decision should be made by. This is also the time to give contact information.• • • • Before I let you go let's all give a big thank you (everyone claps) to Thomas for baking these delicious cookies. such as how to send a question by e-mail or who to call regarding a certain issue. Follow Up In the closing remarks. . As you leave today. but Nolan's wife just gave birth to a baby boy. Next time we meet I'll be sure to have those contacts for you. feel free to send me an e-mail. Most of you probably already know this. The minutes from today's meeting will be posted as of tomorrow afternoon. don't forget to wish Stella luck on the weekend. Again. the chairperson. I'll send out a group e-mail with the voting results. I want to thank you all for taking time out of your busy schedules to be here today. when the minutes will be available. If anyone has any questions about anything we discussed today.

True False 7. Engaging in small talk throughout the meeting is an effective way to keep the focus.. The best way to call a meeting is to inform each participant individually by phone. True False 5. A polite way to indicate that you want to make a comment during a meeting is to say: "If I could just come in here. When there is a tie vote. it is customary for the chairperson to ask one participant to reconsider his/her decision.. True False 6. The person who is in charge of the meeting is the person who takes the minutes.Self-Assessment Test Are the following statements True or False? 1. True False 2. When someone agrees with a motion it is "seconded". True False 3. The person who is speaking during a meeting is the person who "has the floor". An agenda should outline the order and amount of time to spend on each item at the meeting. True False 4. ." True False 8.

the person holding the meeting should introduce new staff members or guest speakers. True False 10. True False Clear Your score is: Did you score 100%? .True False 9. During the closing remarks. Reminders are typically announced after all of the items on the agenda have been covered.